I'm calling it: Emergency rooms around Auckland and Christchurch are definitely going to see an increase in patients this week.

Why? A large fleet of shared electric scooters have descended on the cities.

I had my first experience on one last night and it was exhilarating - yet also somewhat terrifying.

I was on foot, halfway to my girlfriend's house, when I came across a Lime scooter on the pavement – I thought it would be the perfect way to knock a few minutes off my journey and have some fun in the process.


It took me about a minute to get my account ready – I accepted the terms and conditions without a second glance and was ready to ride. The scooters are locked until you scan the QR code on the handlebars with your phone. If you try to move them without the app, they'll start beeping loudly.

After a shaky start, I pressed down on the accelerator and was off like a flash up Richmond Rd. And these things definitely go fast.

Lime says the top speed is 27/kmph, which does feel pretty speedy when you're on the pavement. Especially when said pavement isn't in the greatest condition, which tends to be the case around the central Auckland suburbs.

Every little bump, crack and curb felt pretty dubious, especially when you're not wearing a helmet – Lime scooters have small wheels and don't really offer much in the way of suspension. I felt like I could easily be flung off at any time. Riding past driveways also felt quite perilous.

It's not an irrational fear – similar scooters in the United States have caused a number of accidents, from bloody knees to head injuries and broken shoulders.

In fact, the first ever Lime scooter fatality occurred last month in Dallas, Texas, where a man was found lying unresponsive next to one with blunt force injuries to the head. A second occured later in the month, in Washington DC, when a scooter collided with a car.

I first encountered Lime while on a trip to Los Angeles two weeks ago. As my driver took me to my hotel, his first piece of advice was "watch out for the scooters, they're dangerous".

And they're everywhere.


The rules are a bit different in California. To sign up, you need to provide a drivers license and you're not allowed to ride on the pavement – although riding a Lime scooter on the road sounds about a million times more dangerous.

A man rides a Lime electric scooter along Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California. Photo / Getty Images
A man rides a Lime electric scooter along Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California. Photo / Getty Images

In New Zealand, the scooters are restricted to those over 18 - but anyone with a credit or debit card could break the rules and unlock one.

My six minute journey presented a few obstacles. Outside the Richmond Road Mini Mart, a small child on a non-electronic scooter was riding around in unwieldy circles, threatening to get in my way. I managed to avoid hitting him and also made him feel inferior about his own vehicle, which was a bonus.

Next up was a pedestrian walking in the middle of the pavement wearing headphones and carrying two large shopping bags. The scooter had a bell, but she couldn't hear it. I found an opportunity to make passage on the right and gave the poor walker a fright as I zipped past a little too close for comfort.

Eli Orzessek tries out a Lime scooter in Auckland's Victoria Park. Photo / NZME
Eli Orzessek tries out a Lime scooter in Auckland's Victoria Park. Photo / NZME

When I reached my first downhill stretch, I was glad to find the brakes were reliable.

Overall, it was a real adrenaline rush - and as soon as I reached my destination I was already itching to have another hoon.

But still, it's only a matter of time before the carnage begins – for now, I'm just praying I won't be the first example.